It Was Not Clear Who or What Journalism Was 

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Speaking of things seen in the Boston Globe, here’s a piece of lousy reporting. The article quoted part of a note left by accused Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev thusly:

Tsarnaev, prosecutors said, went on to decry the US government for killing innocent civilians before writing, “We are promised victory, and we will surely get it. Now I don’t like killing innocent people — it is forbidden in Islam but due to said [UI] it is allowed. All credit goes [UI]. Stop killing our innocent people and we will stop.”

It was not clear on Wednesday who or what “UI” stood for, or whether Tsarnaev wrote the letters or if prosecutors inserted them in the court filing as a substitution for his words.

While reading, I guessed that the “[UI]” notation stood for “Unintelligible”, and a quick Google search confirmed this. Not figuring this out on one’s own is perfectly reasonable. However, any writer should know that brackets are used for editorial insertions. Further, any journalist worth his salt should be able to ask questions to help understand this. One would think a Boston-based reporter would be particularly incentivized to do his best work here, but apparently not.

Perhaps the worst offense, however, is that over a week later this foolishness remains. Heck, the first comment on the piece gives the answer needed, but the article remains shamefully unamended.

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